A Right Royal Opportunity: The Big Wedding In Digital Media

The marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton is the latest big global event which media companies are falling over themselves to cover with new digital products.

All manner of service providers has, for weeks, been peppering our inboxes with announcements of features they hope will help them monetise, broadcast and otherwise draw audience from the biggest royal occasion in decades.

But when the main event — the actual wedding itself — actually takes place, don’t expect a blow-by-blow account: cell signals are getting blocked during the ceremony in Westminster Abbey. (Update: According to CBS (NYSE: CBS), Scotland Yard is refuting the blocked call report.)

Police confirmed to Yahoo’s wedding bloggers that cell signals will be blocked in Westminster Abbey from early Friday morning and will continue to be blocked for the duration of the ceremony. That will mean no rings while the rings get exchanged — but it will also mean to live tweets from any of the more social media-minded attendees. We’ll see if someone manages to crack through that barricade tomorrow. Twitter has been one of the most-used mediums for chatter about the wedding up to now:


  • A video opportunity? Every major network will be providing streaming of the event, and the portals might also come into their own here, too. But, as the happy day is a UK public holiday, most viewers will likely be in front of a TV, not a PC.
  • Skateboarding Corgies? YouTube (NSDQ: GOOG), in its latest big live stream, gets an official nod from Buckingham Palace for its broadcast, through the official Royal Channel on the site.
  • Does one ‘*Yahoo*’? The search portal has put in place its own Royal Channel, aggregating not only a live feed of its own, but also photos, articles, games, chat boards, localised content, and whatever else it will think might be relevant that will drive more users to the site.
  • Traffic surge contingency? Finding a site on which to watch the royal wedding won’t be hard — more difficult might be trying to avoid it — but what might prove a challenge is finding a portal that isn’t over-congested.
  • Same goes for mobile networks. Operators are already looking to boost capacity at pressure areas in the UK (such as the village where Kate Middleton’s family lives in Berkshire, which has become something of a pilgrimage ground for royal fans) where mobile networks are expected to see heavy use.


  • Apps are popular. Thirty-four percent of people have downloaded royal wedding apps, according to a MyVoucherCodes survey of 1,700 UK adults – average number of apps: two. Eighty-three percent of those apps are free, average price of the paid apps is at the low end of the range: £0.79 ($1.30). The breakdown of users: 39 percent on iPhone; 32 percent on Android; 21 percent on Blackberry; six percent on Nokia (NYSE: NOK) and two percent ‘other.’
  • The mappy couple. Some apps are informative, if a bit stalkerish (“track the happy couple on your Android phone”, and yourself if you’re hanging out near them, using “exquisite” hand-drawn maps, promises iDo).
  • Play along. (“celebrate the royal wedding by spotting the 50 romantic comedies hidden in our canvas!” says Say What You See; or, Blabber, the word-prediction game app for those watching TV (guessing what pundits will say).
  • News and information. Rough Guides’ Royal walking tour for iPhones, numerous apps from broadcasters aggregating video and other coverage (such as this one, for Android and iOS, from UK news agency ITN).
  • Papers have jumped aboard. The Times and the Mirror) have special apps for the event. These are effectively extensions of the kinds of magazine supplements the newspapers love to publish around special events.
  • The official app. The Royal Family itself is also getting in on the act, with 3D apps of Westminster Abbey and an app using archives from the Royal Collection showcasing royal weddings past.
  • Scan your TV: CNN will direct its mobile-touting TV viewers to its mobile website using on-air barcodes, which it hopes viewers will scan with their handset.

Social media

Some crossover here, with traditional outlets looking for some social media mojo, and those in social media looking for an anchor for their efforts. Photo social network Color (ah, remember them?) have done a deal with the UK newspaper The Telegraph to collect and post photos from people at the event and other points of physical convergence. These will come up as a continuous stream via the Telegraph, and on Color’s site, with the best of the lot to be published by the newspaper after the event.

  • The Twoyal Twedding: “In case you haven’t seen it, the official hashtag for the Royal Wedding is #rw2011,” says @ClarenceHouse, one of the monarchy’s royal homes.
  • Across the pond: Americans are tweeting more (40 percent) about the event than Brits (31 percent), says Trendrr (via CNN) – with traffic spanning from New Haven, CT, to Tusla, OK, and beyond.
  • Royal gush: 46 percent of tweets are positive, 43 percent neutral, 12 percent negative, Trendrr says (via CNN) – there were 5,000 per hour last week in total.
  • Broadcasters’ love affair with social sites continues: CNN is encouraging viewers to collect virtual stickers by “checking in”, via GetGlue, to its coverage, over which CNN will lay tweets and comments solicited via its #CNNtv hashtag, handpicked from celebrities and via Facebook Status Update. It’s also soliciting multi-media material via iReport.